The first leg of the semifinals didn’t blow out any team, so assuming you’re not about to wildcard for this leg (if you are, what have you been doing?), your three free transfers have two purposes. Obviously you want to find as many points as possible, but you also want to avoid having too many players crash out (although if you’re going to wildcard there, you can forget about this now and just go chasing the points).
Now that there are just two games in each week, it is getting harder and harder to make a significant move up in the league. The highest score of the first leg was 66, and about 18,000 teams scored within 20 points of that. But just a few extra points can mean a jump up the league, so where might they be?
For this leg, it is the Man City v PSG lineups that we’ll see before the deadline, so you may want to buy certain starters. If Marquinhos had been a confirmed starter for the first leg he’d surely have been more heavily owned. The flip side to this is that the Chelsea v Real Madrid game will rely a bit more on intuition and/or guesswork this time around.
The two ties are both still in the balance, although Man City have a handy advantage which means that PSG will have to score at least two. There are likely goals in this, but defenders aren’t so promising, unless they can get involved at the other end of the pitch.
Chelsea may have had its best chance in the first leg; with the probable return of Sergio Ramos and others, Real is surely favored now. But they have to score to advance, so they can’t be too defensive. This one has more scope for defensive returns, and if Real can stop Chelsea scoring they’ll fancy picking up at least one goal.
Thibaut Courtois (€6.0m, Chelsea vs Real Madrid)
With only four keepers to pick from, you should already have two of them, so this is not really the place you should spend a precious transfer now, but the Real Madrid keeper probably offers the best chance of a clean sheet.
Sergio Ramos (€6.5m, Chelsea vs Real Madrid)
According to Zidane, Ramos has returned to “full fitness” and is “available” for Wednesday’s match. However, we won’t know until just before Wednesday’s subbing deadline whether he starts unless he is tipped in the press conference (check back here for NMA’s pre-deadline article). If you think he starts, then he’s my top pick for the round. Not only would his presence improve the potential for all RM clean sheets, but he’s also quite likely to deliver attacking returns and take penalties. You could even consider him for your captain’s armband.
Marquinhos (€6.0m, Man City vs PSG)
Defenders were a bit of a washout in the first leg. There were no clean sheets, and the assists came from slightly unexpected places (Rüdiger and Militãu). The only defender who scored was Marquinhos, but he was a Wednesday doubt so less widely selected. His clean sheet potential remains low, but the prospect of attacking returns is where his value likely lies. But he’s expensive so you might not be able to fit him in along with Ramos.
Andreas Christensen (€4.8m, Chelsea vs Real Madrid)
Keep an eye on Chelsea’s team at the weekend, but he played in the first leg and seems likely to keep his place. He’s quite cheap if you’re struggling to fit in others. Real need to score, so Chelsea’s central defenders are likely to be kept busy, increasing the chance of racking up recovered balls points.
John Stones (€5.2m, Manchester City vs PSG)
Stones is a not too expensive route into the City back line, and he should be busy again — and there’s always the chance he’ll pop up with a goal. Stones is suspended domestically, so he’s as close to a lock to start in UCL as any of Pep’s men can be (and you’ll see the lineup if you tune in at deadline time).
Eden Hazard (€9.4m, Chelsea vs Real Madrid)
He came on late in the first leg and may make the starting eleven this time. It’s a big risk given his high price and how little he’s done recently, but he’s capable of big things and could be the key to a Real Madrid victory. His ownership is currently 1% so if he came off it could be a decent differential. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing if he finally came to life to prevent his old team making the final.
Phil Foden (€7.4m, Manchester City vs PSG)
He didn’t come off in the first leg but was close to scoring on more than one occasion. City would love to get a goal in this game, and PSG may have to be a bit open in a quest for goals. If you don’t have him yet, he’s well worth getting in.
Ander Herrera (€5.3m, Manchester City vs PSG)
Should play since Idrissa Gueye is suspended following his red card in the first leg. He’s cheap and has low ownership, but can return decent points through recovered balls.
This position is a strange one now and could be even stranger in the final if PSG crashes out (with Neymar and Mbappe), because it will be hard to find three fantasy players listed at forward who will actually play.
Many fantasy managers went with the big (and expensive) three of Benzema, Neymar and Mbappe. The only other listed forward who played at all was Werner. These four players earned just eleven points in total between them, so unless you missed Benzema and his 6 points, there really was no differential here.
Mbappe is an injury doubt with a calf problem; he will miss this weekend’s Ligue 1 match. If he’s in your squad, you don’t want that much salary rotting on your bench, so if at all possible, delay all of your transfers until confirmed lineups are released on Tuesday. Then you can manage a possible forced move that could send cash flooding into other positions (e.g. after buying a cheap confirmed deputy).
Otherwise the big three remain solid picks. Any of them could score big, but I’m thinking that PSG may find themselves a bit constrained, so picking both Neymar and Mbappe could again be an expensive way to tally only a few points.
Sergio Aguero (€9.6m, Man City vs PSG)
Gabriel Jesus ((€9.2m, Man City vs PSG)
We’ll know Pep’s starting lineup before this match, so if either makes a surprise start, I expect him to be snapped up by many teams. Choosing one of them if he’s only on Pep’s bench would be a high risk, but that might be a way to gain a march on others if it pays, and you can sub him out Wednesday if it doesn’t.
Moise Kean (€5.8m, Manchester City vs PSG)
Here’s another player who is unlikely to start, but with Mbappe questionable he might, or he could see some 2nd-half minutes if PSG is still behind late on. The main reason for suggesting him is to save some €€€’s to allow for other expensive picks. He’s also another Tuesday pick who can be subbed out on Wednesday.
I hope you find these player picks useful — it’s my first attempt at a player picks piece, having volunteered to deputize for Prakhar this week. Prakhar’s excellent picks from the first leg all still apply (I’ve only duplicated one of them since I didn’t want to repeat him). If you’d rather go with the expert, please look here.
Best wishes for a successful second leg
How are you planning to change your team for the second leg? Do you want to make big changes but are constrained by having only three free transfers? Or are you struggling to find a way to improve your team? Are you still replacing dead players who crashed out at the quarter finals? Which teams do you think will make it through? Will that influence your transfers? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
NMA is hiring! If you think you might like to share your UCL expertise with our worldwide audience, see how to apply here.